This week's Big 12 Round Table is brought to us by our Power Towel-twirling friends at Bring on the Cats. To members of Rock M Nation, we invite/encourage/beg you to let us know how you see these five questions, either in the comments at the bottom of the post or in your own diary at the top right of the page.
1. Some teams are coming off a big win or wins (Oklahoma, Colorado, KU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Missouri), while others are dealing with the sting of a tough loss or losses (K-State, Texas, Nebraska, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State). Tell us where your team is headed in the wake of the first two weeks of conference play.
-- In the words of Chase Daniel after thrashing Nebraska 41-6, "the sky is the limit." The Tigers were essentially flawless in their conference opener last Saturday, so flawless that a traditionally pessimistic fan base enters next week's showdown with No. 6 Oklahoma cautiously confident. The victory over Nebraska was a signature win for the program not because "Nebraska is a powerhouse" or anything of that nature - it was the way Mizzou went about its business. The Tigers looked inspired and confident and the fan base looked outstanding for a national TV audience. The sky may indeed be the limit, but that limit should be better defined at the end of this week when things are said and done in Norman, Oklahoma.
2. Colorado and Texas A&M have emerged as unlikely conference leaders at 2-0 (give yourself a cookie if you predicted that), while preseason darlings Texas (0-2) and Nebraska (1-1 and not playing well) are floundering. Do the current leaders have the wherewithal to make it to San Antonio, or will somebody from elsewhere in the pack overtake them?
-- I do not think either team will represent their respective divisions in the Big 12 title game fore one reason: the play of the quarterbacks. In a conference stacked with talent under center, teams can't afford to have poor efforts from their quarterbacks in conference play. Cody Hawkins has been solid but is still prone to making crucial "young mistakes" and trying to force balls in tight windows. For the Aggies, Dennis Franchione has turned a pocket passing machine from Burnet, Texas in Stephen McGee into a complete non-factor in the passing game. Something is not right when Jorvorskie Lane might be your most effective passing threat.
3. A few weeks ago we did a ranking of the six BCS conferences, with most bloggers picking the Big 12 in the middle of the pack, which would be a big improvement over the last couple years. Have the middle and bottom teams of the conference improved significantly, or have the teams at the top declined significantly? Or is it something else?
-- I think it's a mix of both. A national TV audience found out on Saturday that Nebraska has significantly declined and Missouri's program continues to incrementally improve. Texas may be on its way back down now that Vince Young is gone and Mack Brown actually has to coach again. Both denizens of the state of Kansas appear to be on the way up, but a lot of that may be supplemented by the decline of other conference schools. Regardless of whether you perceive it to be the rise of the downtrodden or the fall of the privileged, parity may be the Big 12 buzzword for 2007.
4. Getting waaaaay ahead of ourselves: What if Missouri or KU goes undefeated and wins the Big 12 Championship Game? Would they get a shot at the national championship game?
-- My heart just skipped a bit and part of me died inside, all at the same time. If Missouri manhandled every conference opponent by 20-plus points throughout the rest of the season and proceeded to take the Big 12 Title by force, then certainly they deserve consideration. The same applies for KU. But what if Cal runs through their schedule with the same ease, demolishing USC by 21? What if the media continues its South Florida love fest after an undefeated season? It's all too hard to predict just how things will play out atop the polls. All the Tigers and Jayhawks can do is take care of business and let the chips fall where they may.
5. Rank the conference teams
- Oklahoma - Gritty win against Texas for such a young team.
- Missouri - Homer pick was tempting, but Mizzou can earn No. 1 in Norman this Saturday
- Kansas - Still waiting for the Jayhawks to prove me wrong.
- Colorado - Still waiting for the Buffaloes to prove me wrong. This argument sounds familiar.
- Texas - A different Texas team showed up against OU.
- Kansas State - How forgivable is that home loss in the Big 12 North race?
- Texas Tech - Didn't really learn anything about Tech against Iowa State.
- Texas A&M - A slow start like the one against OSU would be deadly in Lubbock next week.
- Nebraska - Good news: Nebraska holds the tiebreak over ISU for fifth in the North.
- Oklahoma State - This ranking might be kind of low, but Coach Gundy can take it. He's a man. He's forty.
- Iowa State - Chizik's magic vs. Tech doesn't transfer from Austin to Ames.
- Baylor - No. 12 was really just a tossup between ISU and Baylor.